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Renaissance: music revived

Kate Bush’s “Running Up That Hill” hit – revived by the Stranger Things series – continues to thrive: the singer’s official video for the synthpop classic has just passed 100 million views on YouTube. The song plays an important, if not life-saving, role in the fourth season of the 80s thriller, and features in several key scenes. As a result, 37 years after it was first released, the song is enjoying unprecedented chart success worldwide. We now present songs that reached the top long after their release.

Few people know that Eric Clapton’s hit “Layla” was actually released by his short-lived supergroup Derek and the Dominos on their only studio album back in 1970. It became a hit only a year later, on its second release, and reached number 10 on the Billboard Hot 100. The Unplugged version in 1992 took the song back to number 12 and Clapton won the Grammy for Best Rock Song.

“Candle in the Wind” was originally included on Elton John’s 1973 LP Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, but in homage to Marilyn Monroe, the title track, “Bennie and the Jets” and “Saturday Night’s Alright For Fighting” were replaced by the title track and were not eventually released as singles. In 1987, the live version of the song suddenly became a #6 hit, but its biggest hit came just ten years later in 1997, when the song with updated lyrics became #1 in tribute to Elton John’s late friend Princess Diana. The song is still the second best-selling single of all time, after Bing Crosby’s “White Christmas”, thanks to more than 33 million copies sold worldwide.

Queen is also a song that has been rediscovered by generations. “Bohemian Rhapsody” was a legitimate, albeit somewhat surprising (the song lasted almost six minutes) hit in the first go-round: it was #1 in the UK in 1975 and #9 in the US the following year, where it was Queen’s breakthrough hit. Less than a year after Freddie Mercury’s death, Bohemian Rhapsody enjoyed a second chart life, helped by its prominent inclusion in the hugely popular Wayne’s World, which reached #2. Following the release of the biopic Bohemian Rhapsody in 2018, it became the most streamed song of the 20th century, and in 2021 it was certified Diamond in the US.

Mariah Carey’s Christmas hit “All I Want For Christmas (is You)” debuted in 1994 to a relatively good reception, but it took many years for the song to become as popular as it is today. The song only broke into the top 10 in December 2017, but it had been growing in popularity year on year in the years before that, becoming the most downloaded Christmas song between 2013 and 2016. In 2018, the song became the most streamed song in a single day, with 10.8 million streams worldwide on Spotify on Christmas Eve. Finally, in 2019, 25 years after its original release, it topped the US Billboard for the first time, breaking several records, including the longest run to number one.